Friday, May 16, 2014
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Davis' Ninth-Inning Single Lifts Brewers Past Pirates

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[May 16, 2014]  MILWAUKEE -- Miller Park has been a difficult place for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who were 37-76 there since the start of the 2007 season. But it has been an even tougher place this season for Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Khris Davis, who came into the game with a .138 average at home.

So when Davis came to the plate with the bases loaded, nobody out and the Brewers down one in the ninth inning on Thursday afternoon, something had to give.

Fortunately for the Brewers, that something gave in their favor as Davis, 0-for-3 to that point, ripped a single up the middle, scoring the tying and winning runs as Milwaukee rallied for a 4-3 victory.

"We are struggling a little offensively, so it was nice to see that," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "We were patient and had some guys actually walk and get on base. There were some good at-bats in the ninth inning against a real good pitcher. I was happy to see that."

With right-hander Mark Melancon on to preserve a one-run lead, right fielder Ryan Braun led off with a single to right. Melancon followed by walking catcher Jonathan Lucroy and first baseman Mark Reynolds to load the bases with nobody out.

That brought up Davis, the Brewers' left fielder who has been mired in a season-long slump at home. Davis worked the count to 2-2 and then slapped a cut fastball back up the middle to score Braun and Lucroy, giving Milwaukee its third series victory over the Pirates this season.

"It feels pretty good to take a series," Davis said. "Winning a series at home is always important, and that's going to go a long ways to getting us in the playoffs."

Melanacon (1-2), filling as the closer for injured Jason Grilli, blew his second save of the season.

"The goal was to strike him out," Melancon said. "I knew I could kick back and start throwing strikes. ... I was just in a tough spot."

The Pirates lead the majors with 10 blown saves.

"More often than not, if a closer doesn't close, people want to hang him," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Nobody feels worse than he does in that clubhouse right now. He's been very efficient. That's what makes the game so challenging. You have to continually do it, and there's no safety net when you're in the position of closer.

"They're human beings. Ten is an uncharacteristic number for us at this point in time compared to what we did last time, there's no doubt about that."

Pittsburgh took a 3-2 lead into the ninth thanks to home runs by catcher Tony Sanchez and first baseman Gaby Sanchez and strong showing by left-hander Wandy Rodriguez in his first start since coming off the disabled list.

Rodriguez went five innings and allowed two runs, four hits with a walk and four strikeouts. Milwaukee's only runs against Rodriguez came on homers by second baseman Rickie Weeks and catcher Martin Maldonado.

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"I felt good," Rodriguez said. "I only made two mistakes."

All three of Pittsburgh's runs came via home runs off Brewers right-hander Yovani Gallardo.

Gallardo did not allow a hit through the first four innings but gave up a leadoff single to left fielder Jose Tabata in the fifth and then hung an 0-2 slider to Tony Sanchez, who sent it to the opposite field for his first home run of the season, giving the Pirates a 2-1 lead.

After Milwaukee tied it in the bottom of the inning with a home run by Maldonado, Sanchez connected on Gallardo's first offering of the sixth for his fourth homer of the season.

Gallardo went 6 1/3 innings and gave up five hits and two walks while striking out six.

"Yo did a nice job," Roenicke said. "He made one mistake on a high slider, but I thought he threw well. He kept us in there, and we scratched."

Weeks' home run was his first of the season and capped another big day for the streaky second baseman. He went 3-for-4 with a double to extend his hitting streak to eight games and is batting .684 (13-for-19) during that stretch.

NOTES: To make room for LHP Wandy Rodriguez on the 25-man roster, the Pirates optioned OF Jaff Decker to Triple-A Indianapolis before the game. ... C Jonathan Lucroy started at first base for Milwaukee as manager Ron Roenicke stacked his lineup with right-handers against Rodriguez. Lucroy made 14 appearances -- nine starts -- at first in 2013. ... OF Starling Marte was not in the Pirates' starting lineup for a fourth consecutive day but did enter as a pinch hitter in the eighth.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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